With the expectation of a small fraction of students who have opted into select linkage programs, most medical school applicants will be required to tackle the MCAT before even considering their application. In many places, the MCAT, or Medical College Admissions Test, is still a major consideration for admissions committees scouting potential students. Needless to say, it’s important. In addition to being one of the most intensive preparation and testing experiences known to the world of port-graduate studies, preparing for and taking the MCAT also comes at a hefty fee.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I paid for the medical school application process out of pocket. So obviously, I tried to complete my MCAT in the cheapest, most cost-effective way possible. That said, registering for the MCAT alone costs $320. And in the unfortunate event that something unexpected happens that requires you to reschedule, that will cost (at least) another $100.
In terms of studying, it’s important to consider prep books, prep classes, and tutoring. Trying to be economical, I opted to self study for the MCAT. Usually, you can find used copies of prep books online to use for content review. I was able to buy a previous edition of ExamKrackers books for $50 on Amazon. Another option is to check local public libraries! If you’re lucky, they may have selected books that you can check out while you’re preparing. That’s about as cheap as it gets. Finally, and this is maybe the best scenario, you may be able to obtain some MCAT hand-me-downs from friends who have already taken the exam.
Still, one of the most important parts of preparing for the exam is familiarizing yourself with the test itself. The best way to do that, I was told, is to use Low - Cost MCAT Prep Resources from AAMC. Their MCAT resources bundle can be purchased for $294. I also learned that just by signing up for accounts with big test prep companies, I was able to get 1 free practice exam each. I was able to do this at Princeton Review, NextStep (now Blueprint Prep), and Kaplan. Some of these sites will even help you prepare a study schedule!
Combined, the total cost of my MCAT experience came out to $664, no modest sum. Here’s a breakdown of my total expenses:
This doesn’t even begin to list the number of resources available. There is a wide range of tutoring services available, either through your school, or testing companies, and some free-lancers. If you’d prefer to spring for the newest, most recent edition MCAT books, it can cost about $275. Need more hands on help? Many test prep companies will offer online or in-person MCAT courses, with in-person lessons, starting at $2,000. Lastly, a 5-week intensive bootcamp will cost a breathtaking $7000.
If you factor in these added services, taking the MCAT can end up costing up to $10,000.
I should also mention that if you qualify for AAMC’s Fee Assistance Program, there are a host of benefits regarding the MCAT. First, there are reduced rates for registration and rescheduling. Also, they will give you their Low Cost MCAT Prep Resources for free! If you’re planning on exploring this option, I’d recommend doing it sooner rather than late because these discounts cannot be applied retroactively and the process can be kinda lengthy. (More thoughts on the FAP to come.)
For more information about taking the MCAT, check out AAMC’s MCAT Essentials. (Page 3 has information about exam day, including sections and timing. Page 17 has details about registration, rescheduling and cancellation fees.)